Ferdinand of Aragon

(Ferdinand II of Aragon, Ferdinand I of Spain)


Ferdinand was born a Prince of Aragon, and by his marriage to Isabella, Queen of Castile, the two thrones were united, thereby forming the Modern state of Spain. The reign of Isabel and Ferdinand was one of unparalleled importance in the History of Spain. They not only founded the nation, but together saw it through some of its most difficult trials. They increased its territory, expelled the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, financed Columbus's discovery of America, and implemented severe reforms among the nobles in order to consolidate power in a unified throne.

Isabel and Ferdinand governed together exceedingly well, due largely to Isabels extraordinary gifts of intelligence and tact. Ferdinand was a brave and valiant battle-field commander, who governed foreign relations with firmness, while Isabel handled many domestic matters with considerable ability.

During his reign as King of Spain Ferdinand led the armies in three major wars, each with important consequences. Between 1475-79 he fought the king of Portugal to defend Isabels claim to the throne of Castile. Between 1482-92 he drove the Moors out of their remaining stronghold in Granada. Finally, from 1494 on, with intermittant periods of peace he fought the King of France over territorial disputes in Italy. In all of these conflicts he distinguished himself as a capable general, most notably during the War of Granada.

Although Isabel and Ferdinand had five children who lived to adulthood, several died as young adults, leaving Juana of Castile, his eldest daughter as heir to the throne of Spain. She was however, mentally impaired, so Ferdinand ruled as regent of Spain even after the death of his wife Isabel. During this this later part of his life he was preoccupied primarily with his territories in Italy and his war with France. He married an Italian princess but produced no more children.

The Spanish territories in the new world were being explored during the final years of Ferdinand's reign but the major conquests of Mexico and Peru were still to come. Ferdinand was not, however, as supportive of Columbus as Isabella had been, and the great explorer fell into hard times after her death. Ferdinand died in 1516, twenty-four years after the discovery of America, and the throne of Spain past to his Hapsburg grandson, Charles V.

Key events during the life of Ferdinand of Aragon:

Birth of Ferdinand, prince of Aragon
Marriage to Isabella of Castile. Castilian and Aragon crowns are united.
Isabels claim to the Castilian throne is confirmed by Ferdinand's victory at the Battle of Toro.
Ferdinand succeeds his father to the throne of Aragon.
Castilians take the fortress of Alhama from the Moors.
Castilians take the Moorish stronghold of Malaga.
Conquest of Granada, Columbus discovers America, Jews expelled from Spain.
First Italian War breaks out. Spain at war with France
Death of Prince Juan, heir to the Spanish throne.
Death of Princess Isabella, queen of Portugal and heir to the throne.
Second Italian War breaks out. Spain again at War with France.
Death of Isabella. Ferdinand becomes regent for Juana.
Ferdinand marries Germaine of Foix, niece of the king of France.
War of the League of Cambrai breaks out. Spain renews conflict with France.
Death of Ferdinand, King of Spain

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella  in  The Romance of Spanish History  by  John S.C. Abbott
Domestic Sorrows  in  The Romance of Spanish History  by  John S.C. Abbott
The Fall of Malaga  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
The End of Ferdinand and Isabella  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
Ferdiand of Aragon  in  Famous Men of Modern Times  by  John H. Haaren
Ferdinand and Isabella  in  Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain  by  Charles F. Horne
Moors Driven out of Spain—The Rise of Spain  in  The Story of Europe  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Last Sigh of the Moor  in  Historical Tales: Spanish  by  Charles Morris
Ferdinand and Isabella  in  Spain: A History for Young Readers  by  Frederick A. Ober
King Ferdinand's Friend  in  Amerigo Vespucci  by  Frederick A. Ober
Fall of Granada  in  Brave Men and Brave Deeds  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

The wedding of Ferdinand and Isabella
 in Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain
Ferdinand and Isabella the surrender of Granada
Ferdinand and Isabella the surrender of Granada
 in Back Matter

Tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella
 in Isabella of Castile

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella receiving Columbus
 in The Story of Columbus

Surrending the Keys to Granada
 in Historical Tales: Spanish

King Ferdinand
 in Juan Ponce de Leon

Short Biography
Isabel of Castile Pious and stalwart queen of Spain, unified diverse kingdoms, reformed finances, conquered Granada, financed Columbus.
Gonsalvo de Cordova Spanish general who fought in Granada and Italy; pioneered modern tactics of warfare.
Christopher Columbus Genoan sailor, sponsored by Isabela of Spain, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the Americas.
Boabdil Briefly replaced his father on the throne of Granada before surrending to Ferdinand.
Hernan Perez del Pulgar Spanish knight under Isabella and Ferdinand who gained famed during the Reconquista for daring exploits.
Cardinal Ximenes Influential cardinal-minister at the court of Isabel and Ferdinand. Did much to reform both Church and government of Spain.
Juana of Castile Daughter of Isabel, mother of Charles V, and heir to the throne of Castile. Deposed by Ferdinand due to insanity.